Melody is a CDC volunteer with a passion for gardening and growing healthy food for consumption. She enjoys sharing her personal experience.
Pests are at the center of many human-centered problems. We go to great lengths to keep them far away from our houses and ourselves. Sometimes just the sight of a bug can send shivers down the spine. No one is surprised that they caused Miss Muffet to run away. But sometimes knowing the facts about bugs can lighten the tension.
In reality, it's just a handful of pests that should make us ring the alarm. Most pests are harmless, or as Douglas Adams wrote, "Mostly Harmless." Of course, he was speaking of humans, which could be considered pests in some cases. Either way, bugs are annoying, and that's why we call them pests!
Bugs are just one type of pest. There are lots of different types of pests that humans attempt to control and conquer. The best way to get rid of pests is to understand more about them. It isn't easy to beat something you fear. Don't worry, fear can be soothed with knowledge.
On that note, let's learn more about pests, and have a little fun with some bizarre pest facts.
What Is a Pest?
Did you know that bugs are not the only pests? That's right, when we zoom out from the classification, we realize that birds, bugs, mammals, and even plants can be considered pests! The term pest indicates that the given organism clashes with human goals.
Look at this fantastic list of pests!
Examples of Pests
Insects and Other Bugs
Brown Tree Snake
Black Alder (tree)
Camphor Laurel (tree)
Emerald Ash Borer
Japanese Climbing Fern
Northern Corn Rootworms
Northern Snakehead (fish)
Nutria (swamp rat)
Norway Maple (tree)
Queen Ann's Lace
Bizzare Mating Facts
Mating behavior pest information is helpful when coping with an organism that have become a nuisance. Preventing mating can reduce your pest problem. When researching this topic you might find some really bizarre facts!
Bizarre pest mating facts:
- The female praying mantis not only tends to bite off the males head after copulation, she does it during or before to ensure vigorous movements and increase chances of impregnation.
- Snails penises are equal to their body length. When choosing a mate, they must not be smaller than the male. If the mate is to small, she castrates the male.
- The average mouse will have around 50 to 60 babies each year! Left unchecked, a mouse problem becomes infestation in a matter of months.
- Pigeons mate for life. When a pigeon has their soul mate, they kiss each other by pressing their bills together.
- After ejaculation, the orb-web spider leaves his genitalia in the female spider. It snaps off and becomes a plug so other males can not mate with her.
- Female head louse (head lice) can lay 300 eggs in her 1-month life cycle.
- In bull frog society, it is the male who stays to care for the young. Females leave immediately after laying eggs.
- Meal-worm beetles have a recognizable mating pheromone. The purpose of this is to prevent incest during mating.
- Nutria (swap rats) have 15 to 21 babies each year. They leave their mother after only month.
- When a scorpion mother is unable to find enough food, she may eat some of her young to ensure the survival of the other scorplings.
Weird Hunting Habits of Bugs
Pests, whether plant or animal, are very well adapted for finding food. Often, this is what makes them pests to humans. Each animal shares the common fact that they must hunt to find food. When we take a closer look, some pests have very unique and bizarre behaviors associated with hunting acts.
- Chiggers do not burrow under the skin. When they hunt, they bite their prey (sometimes human). The bite contains special enzymes that are designed to cause skin cell death. Chiggers feed on skin cells and leave. The itchy mark left behind doesn't have a chigger in it, just chemicals that kill skin cells.
- The American mink usually eats voles, birds, fish, or rabbits. However, it will hunt and kill European minks when they meet. The European mink population is observed to decrease as the American mink population increases. European minks do not set out to kill American minks, although they will try to defend themselves.
- Foxes, which are considered invasive species (and therefore pests), eat about two pounds of food a day. When they have leftovers they dig a whole in the ground to preserve them for later.
- Millipedes excrete enzymes that small bad, taste bad, and even cause minor burning. For humans, this is a annoyance, but it prevents them from becoming the prey. The chemicals they excrete are used to keep their prey from moving while they are made a meal.
- The emerald ash borer preys on trees. In North America, the ash tree population has been devastated. Ash borers do not hunt by going tree to tree. Instead, they find a tree they like and stay there until winter. Ash borers infest specific trees, with the blue ash tree showing the most promise as far as resistance goes.
- Ladybugs eat plants. However, if a lady bug reaches starvation, it will eat younger lady bugs and their larvae.
- Bed bugs can detect the carbon dioxide you emit when you breath out. They use this as a tracking signal to find their prey.
- Even though hedgehogs are nocturnal, they have terrible eyesight. They hunt small insects, but can not see them. Instead they hunt with their sense of sound and smell.
- A rare type of ant found in places such as Adams county, Ohio, work with the native butterfly to find food. The ants and the butterfly work together, to protect themselves from predictors and to obtain food. Ants and butterflies are friends in this case.
- Spider mites, cousin to the daddy long leg, love hot dry weather. Their mouth piece is a tubule to pierce plants. There are many species of spider mites though. One species of spider mite actually hunts other species of spider mites.
Other Strange Pest Facts
Pests spend a lot of time hunting and mating, or growing out of control. Not every way pets impact us has to do with hunting and mating. There are many other strange pest facts that will peak your curiosity.
- Beavers have a second set of eyelids. They use them to see under water, which helps them build giant damns. The largest beaver damn is said to be visible from beyond the stratosphere.
- While slugs are known for eating the plants in your garden, there is such a thing as a carnivorous slug. They are known as predatory gastropods. These slugs are cannibals, only resorting to eating vegetation if they cant find another slug or snail to eat.
- The honeysuckle, a much loved novelty my children, may have sweet tasting flower pistils, but the berries should never be eaten by humans because they are poisonous.
- Bookworms are actually quite rare. While they used to be a major concern to librarians, modern books use special chemicals during processing to prevent the types of paper molding that attract these tiny paper eating creatures.
- Sometimes something beautiful can become a pest. It took 100 years for Kudzu, a beautiful flowering vine, to be seen for what it was. Now, we consider this to be a weed and an invasive species. When given a chance it will smother out other plants and trees. When people first started bringing it to the US, they planted it against their homes. It looks wonderful, and provides shade. However, slowly the vines grew into the homes causing structural instability.
- Today we regard ragweed as a nasty plant that causes most of our allergies. It is difficult to imagine, but native tribes actually made good use of this plant we now call a weed. The stalk of the ragweed plant is sturdy and was used in rope making. Ragweed was even used in cooking! People of today seem to have a higher sensitivity to ragweed than the native Americans who saw it as a useful plant.
- Pretty much everyone thinks cockroaches are gross. However, they are a common food to other pests. Centipedes will bite the head off a cockroach, if they are full they will save the body for later. They can do this because the body is preserved because cockroaches can breath through their abdomen. This keeps the body fresh, so the centipede can have leftovers.
- The tree of heaven grows invasive across North America. It grows quickly, and tends to kill the plants around it. What most people don't know about the tree of heaven is that its saw dust is highly dangerous. There have been cases where someone cutting a tree of heaven down has collapsed with heart and circulatory problems because they breathed in the saw dust. Care should be taken when removing these trees.
- Bed bugs might not be able to spread most diseases, but new information from the CDC shows that they could spread parasites.
- Queen Ann's Lace has a copy cat. Another plant, hemlock, looks almost exactly the same. What makes this dangerous is that hemlock is a very dangerous plant, very poisonous. It grows wild in many places in North America, often right alongside queen ann's lace.
Just like one man's trash is another mans treasure, pests to some aren't pests to others. Our world is a delicately balanced ecosystem, which is thrown out of balance when plants and animals are moved to a location they would not normally live.
Sometimes, other pests are brought in to solve a problem, just creating another problem. It is wise for human kind to be conscientious about the plants and animals they travel with. When we zoom out, and take a global perspective, we can see how damaging introducing pests to new areas can be.
The chain reaction can be devastating! Let these strange, even bizarre, pest facts remind you of how mysterious pests can be, and to be aware of them when traveling.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 Melody Collins
Louise89 on September 17, 2019:
Thanks for the great information!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 16, 2017:
Yes, humans are certainly the biggest pest around I think. I rather like foxes, they're lovely animals.
Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on September 18, 2016:
Very interesting! It's also interesting that what might be a pest in one country is quite welcome in another. In Australia foxes are definitely a pest as they maraud people's hen-houses and will even attack new-born lambs. Other animal pests include goats, buffalo and camels. They were all introduced to the country to be useful, but when they become feral they devastate both the native flora and fauna.